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How 'unique nanoseconds combination' has transformed Johnny Sexton

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)

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Brian O’Driscoll has hailed the “unique” way that veteran Johnny Sexton is currently playing the game and making himself indispensable as the Leinster and Ireland out-half. Just seven weeks before his 37th birthday, the veteran will lead his province in this Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup final versus La Rochelle and will then likely captain his country on their three-Test tour to New Zealand in July.

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That is quite a turnaround in fortunes as Sexton had been written off in recent years and wasn’t selected to tour South Africa last year with the Lions. He has since bounced back in sumptuous form this season with Ireland, leading them to a Six Nations Triple Crown and a November win over the All Blacks, and he will now look to successfully see out his campaign, beginning with Leinster and their quest to win a fifth Champions Cup.  

A former teammate of Sexton’s at Leinster and Ireland, O’Driscoll now follows the exploits of the out-half through the prism of his punditry work for BT Sport and ahead of the European club final in Marseille, he told RugbyPass what exactly the talisman has changed in his game to enable him to keep on shining brightly at the highest level.

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The Breakdown | Episode 14 | Sky Sport NZ
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The Breakdown | Episode 14 | Sky Sport NZ

“He has got more poise, the experience is adding to his game,” explained O’Driscoll, who will be working at Stade Velodrome when Sexton leads Leinster out this weekend. “He has learned where to stick (opposition) defences a little bit more in the last few years and doesn’t invite himself to get those late shots as much. 

“But he still does a job on the defence just from understanding the shape of shoulders or when defenders are committed or when they are playing out, he is just able to read that in nanoseconds where the opportunity lies and then pull the trigger on the correct pass. 

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“It’s quite a unique combination and it feels like he is getting better at it, to be honest. He is just adding to a template that he has developed over the course of the last ten years and longer and now he is just continually adding to it rather than replacing.”

  • BT Sport is the home of the European Rugby Champions Cup. The 2021/22 season concludes this weekend with Leinster vs Stade Rochelais live on BT Sport 2 at 4pm on Saturday, May 28. Find out more on how to watch at BT Sport bt.com/sport

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